Mother and Child
1953, cast c.1954
Bronze on a wood base
510 x 230 x 235 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1960
Second artist’s copy aside from edition of 7 plus 1 artist’s copy
Technique and condition
Henry Moore cast this small sculpture in bronze from an original model made of plaster (fig.1). This model was created by applying successive layers of wet plaster over an armature, probably made of metal, which provided support for the thinner, more delicate parts of the sculpture, such as the legs of the bench and the child’s long neck. The surface of the bronze reveals the techniques Moore used to shape the forms. Tool marks in the mother’s lap were made while the plaster was still wet, while parallel marks on the legs of the bench, the woman’s left arm, and the child’s right shoulder were made using a saw blade or file while the plaster was drying. Vertical striations can also be seen between the legs of the woman and on one side of the child’s head.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', January 2014, in Alice Correia, ‘Mother and Child 1953, cast c.1954 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, November 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The child, which has no recognisably human features, is conjoined to the mother’s left hip, from which its thin body rises to a hollow, wheel-like form, which may represent an empty stomach. From here the child’s long, tubular neck extends up to a schematic bird-like head with a pointed crest and an open beak-like mouth, which thrusts towards the mother’s breast as though to feed (fig.2). Only the mother’s tight grip around the child’s neck appears to stop the child from biting her. The child’s large circular eyes, positioned on either side of its head, intensify the impression that it is straining, either from its compulsion to feed, or from the pain exerted by the mother’s stranglehold.
Origins and facture
Moore’s first three-dimensional development of this idea took the form of a small maquette, probably made of clay or wax. According to the artist’s daughter Mary Moore this maquette was cast in bronze in the furnace built in 1950 at the bottom of the garden of Moore’s home, Hoglands, at Perry Green in Hertfordshire (fig.4). In the late 1930s Moore had cast a series of small lead sculptures, including Reclining Figure 1939 (Tate T03761), in the garden of his then home in Kent, and so had some metalwork experience when he decided to return to backyard casting in 1950. Moore had used professional foundries to cast his bronze sculptures during the 1940s, but the expense of this process, coupled with his stated ambition ‘to know how bronze casting was done’, may have prompted him to try it himself.1 However, according to his friend and former assistant Bernard Meadows, Moore’s garden foundry at Hoglands ‘never really worked because the furnace didn’t get hot enough to melt the bronze!’2 According to Mary Moore, when Moore removed the bronze Maquette for Mother and Child from its mould, ‘there were ragged edges of bronze on the mother’s head of the type you’d ordinarily file off. He enjoyed them so much he not only left most of them on, by accentuated them when he created the larger form. So it was happenstance that led him to those really pointed edges’.3 While the first bronze version of Maquette for Mother and Child was cast at Hoglands, it was also later cast in bronze in an edition of nine at the Art Bronze Foundry in London.
Intention and interpretation
Henry Moore and the Tate collection
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Mother and Child 1953, cast c.1954 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, November 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www